Arts & Entertainment

California metal bands involved in deadly freeway wreck

Makh Daniels (far right) with Early Graves
Makh Daniels (far right) with Early Graves
Early Graves / Ironclad Recordoings

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A couple of up-and-coming metal bands from California who were expected to wind up a national tour in the Southland this week, had their journey cut tragically short Monday. A van carrying members of San Francisco band Early Graves and Orange County-based group The Funeral Pyre overturned on Interstate 5 in Oregon. One of the musicians was killed.

The bands were headed to Nevada following a string of shows in the Pacific Northwest. The groups’ van spun off the freeway and overturned after the driver apparently fell asleep. Early Graves vocalist Makh Daniels was thrown from the vehicle and died at the scene. Two other band members were hurt in the pre-dawn accident.

28-year-old Daniels lived just outside San Francisco in the fog shrouded coastal community of Pacifica. He was a well-known figure in a resurgent Bay Area metal scene that’s home to a wealth of independent young bands like Early Graves and The Funeral Pyre, as well as middle-aged metal stalwarts like Metallica and Exodus

Early Graves and The Funeral Pyre were wrapping up a grueling coast-to-coast club tour that had them playing in about 40 cities in as many days. The tour coincided with the release of Early Graves’ second album, “Goner”. Makh Daniels’ throat shredding vocals were a hallmark of the band’s caustic fusion of ‘80’s-era thrash metal and crusty English punk rock.

In press material, Daniels said writing the group’s new album was an “exorcism of sorts” that helped him get through some dark times. "Doing this record has been absolutely necessary for all of us in the band," said Daniels. "And personally, it's the proudest I've ever been of anything I've ever done."

In an online tribute, Decibel magazine contributor Cosmo Lee said despite Early Graves’ seemingly gloomy aural assault vocalist Daniels, “screamed life."

"He was not some death metal conjurer of morbidity," writes Lee. "He was struggling to live.”

Daniels had apparently struggled with homelessness and depression – difficult circumstances he channeled into music and physical on-stage performances. “The body may be broken,” writes Lee. “But the voice lives on."

Early Graves & The Funeral Pyre were scheduled to conclude their national tour this week with shows in Riverside, Whittier and Los Angeles.